How to address boredom in a Marriage?

In the busy, schedule-ridden, formulaic lives of today, couples inevitably find themselves falling out of the early, exciting phase of their relationships to a more stoic co-existence. While it all begins with fireworks in and outside the sheets, the lust gives away to warmth of married life as they ponder settling down into a more comfortable groove. However, overdoing the comfort zone disallows them to break out of it and soon enough, they slip into a passive steady state. It isn’t all bad. At this point their friendship matters much more than the mere sexual passion. However, this is also the time when the relative grounds of personal space, emotional equation and general behavior comes into account as the more evenly spread factors in the marriage. It is the beginning of occasional angry face-offs which show first signs of strain and moderate disruption in a relatively smooth equation.

However, it is the next phase which takes turn for more dangerous. Boredom can gnaw into the most steady of them all, as it offers no respite from the already over-packed schedules, familial tensions and other interruptions in daily life. The ennui gets problematic for a relationship when a steady state morphs from comfortable to stagnant.

Prominent psychologist Beverly Fehr with her associate Cheryl Harasymchuk outlined in their pioneering work “relationship boredom” that there are several ways in which it can manifest itself. The symptoms are somewhat like these:

  • The most prominent is the state of emptiness associated with the ending of a relationship.
  • Couples may also feel an overwhelmingly negative emotional state particularly prominent for lack of excitement and stimulation, defined as “relationship maintenance challenge”
  • Regular challenges and dynamic tension which is characterized by desire to keep it predictable for good habits and a desire for novelty for injecting life into a stale state of things.

However there is never an entirely objective viewpoint in terms of relationship, but a rather two-sided view on why the participation of each partner in the relationship isn’t up to the standards they are held to by the other.  There is never a right or a wrong side in entirety. Often, it’s all in the eyes of the participants. To quantify loss of excitement, lack of interest in activities with the partner, fun in involvement with a partner, spark, and surprises are all major facets of marriage boredoms as surveyed by Fehr and her team. The sexual interest in a partner ranges from being “tired and not up to it” to “feeling nothing to warrant it”.  Armed with such data, often a predisposition that a relationship is bound to wane under pressure from such extraneous and internal factors, people often try to end the marriage and move on. However the researchers insist that it is possible, with a good counsel to turn things around as long as the parties involved are aware of the root cause.

It isn’t a hasty call by the partners either. People clearly understand the implications which may range from a huge alimony and child support payment to emotional distress and mistrust of never being able to form a solid relationship again.

There are some prominent mental aspects of boredom in marriage, which can be addressed:

1)     Decide what you mean by “boredom” in your relationship. Boredom could be that the behavior and patterns of a partner is becoming predictable, that he/she doesn’t indulge in surprising you or noticing small changes any more or an acute loss of communicability with the partner. Initially each of these factors is permissible only at a two-way level, but if the situation aggravates, a neutral resolver is highly welcome. If however, lack of interest in your partner emerges as primary reason that the quality of a relationship is dwindling the root cause can be traced to lack of compatibility, or completely uninspiring personality traits. Ask yourself the questions – does what he or she does no longer matter to you? Do you find the person interesting at all? Does it still excite you to observer your partner’s quirks and foibles? Does it lack spontaneity? These images determine the next steps.

2)     Communication –  Ask your partner about how she perceives the boredom of your mutual relationship and marriage. Is he/she content with the quality of life, the timetable and schedules, the routines you both have fallen into or do they pine for change and novelty as well? The level of interest in you and the relationship from your partner could be determined by her answers. You could know if she indeed sees hope in this marriage and relationship or not. As a person your ability to attract and your personality to be a source of interest and intrigue could be gauged too. Once both prototypes out there to contrast, you may work towards getting it right and making some plans

3)     Adjustments – Compromise doesn’t always mean conceding. Be willing to step back and take stock of the deliverables of a relationship. What do you both want out of the marriage? How to go about it?  Do you still envision taking the trips and doing activities together? If it is just a matter of how listless the lives have become, perhaps it is a good time to find ways to talk to each other to recapture that quality which fascinated both of you for each other. If predictability rather than lack of interest is the culprit then perhaps it time to break out of your schedule and see if you can make it work.

4)     Viewpoints – Changing your perceptions and viewpoints would first need you to rate how you’re treating your relationship. Rather than staying stuck on it, maybe it is worth it to find the root cause and reality. Feeling comfortable in each other’s company isn’t merely about enjoying your similarities but also celebrating the difference you both have. It isn’t the rom-coms which Hollywood dishes out which works in real-life scenarios. Like their sexual chemistry, it is more of a myth than how things work in true sense.

5)     Seek Counseling – Believe it when we say – counseling works. Every couple may not be emotionally equipped to remain objective and step back to see the big picture. A counsel isn’t meant to only work towards reconciliation, but also give a professional, neutral perspective on what could work and what isn’t. It isn’t merely about solving arguments as much as it is about seeking advice on how to stay within a marriage, be fair, and be mindful of the fact that relationship is as much about giving as receiving. If the parting must happen, it needs to be amicable as well.

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